Blind Canines

No, not guide dogs for the blind, nor  poor sighted dogs in need of a human guide, I’m talking about canine teeth. In particular, the canine teeth of a horse.

A horse’s canine teeth are supposedly a throwback to when they were carnivores, or another theory is that they were fighting teeth, but now only males  tend to have them – I guess their development is linked to testosterone or other hormone levels. They erupt when geldings or stallions are between four and five years old.

I’ve noticed that this year plaque has started developing on Otis’s canine teeth, and apparently that’s usual from the age of eight or nine, so they just need cleaning regularly.

Back to the blind part of canines.

One of my clients had the dentist to her pony last week, and the dentist told her that the mare has blind canines. That is, she has unerupted canine teeth sitting just below the gum, causing it to be sore and bruised. The right one is much more prominent so the dentist recommended trying a thinner bit. Someone I saw today also suggested lifting the bit in the pony’s mouth so that it is less likely to bang against the blind canines when the reins are given and retaken.

The dentist also had a couple of interesting facts to say about blind canines. Apparently mares who have canines are subject to higher levels of testosterone in the womb. They also tend to be a more balanced nature and more talented.

Whilst I can’t talk about testosterone levels in the womb, I can say that this little mare has a very gelding-like personality. And yes, she is also talented when she puts her mind to it!

I also learnt today that canines can take longer to appear in mares, so it is worth monitoring the mare’s  mouth closely until she is eight or so for any changes to the canines.

It’s always so interesting to see horses with against the normal physiology, and it’s interesting to see how their working life can be affected and how moderations to tack and equipment can help solve the problem.


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